Mary Ann Palazzo, 69, of Key Largo, Fla., died peacefully Friday morning, April 17, 2020, in Key Largo.
‘Zeke’ was born in Sandusky, Ohio, on October 12, 1950, to Betty (Griner) and Joseph Palazzo, both preceding her in death in November 2014 and October 2005, respectively.
A graduate of Sandusky High School’s (SHS) Class of 1969, Mary Ann was an active student, a member of the SHS Cheerleading Squad – Captain during her Senior year – a member of the SHS Pep Squad, a member and officer of the SHS Swan Club, the school’s synchronized swimming team, and swam competitively for Briarcrest Swim Club and in American Athletic Union (AAU) competitions. Mary Ann excelled in fine art in high school and upon graduation, earned several scholarship offers to area universities as a result.
Choosing to stay in Sandusky after graduation, Mary Ann was recruited as a beauty consultant for Betty’s growing cosmetics franchise, Fashion Two Twenty, Inc. Within two months, Mary Ann became one of the region’s top grossing sales associates – a role and a position she enjoyed for the next several years.
Leaving Sandusky for South Florida, in 1973, Mary Ann married Norwalk native, the late Larry Sturgill, at sunrise on the shores of Miami Beach, Fla. This remarkable event was captured on film by Hallmark Greeting Cards’ photographer and Sandusky native Gary Leech for Hallmark’s newest line of personal wedding cards. In 1976, a second marriage to the late Nicholas Kopy (Miami, Fla.), father of Mary Ann’s only child, Tiffany, they settled in Homestead, Fla.
The beginnings of her storied career in hospitality management, Mary Ann returned to Ohio and landed a leadership role with Marriott Hotels’ Marriott North, Columbus, serving as Food and Beverage Manager, quickly promoted to Director of Sales. She also worked with the Radisson Hotels Corporation, and with ITT’s Sheraton Hotels, where she served as Manager of the Sheraton Airport Inn, Port Columbus Airport, Columbus. Her exceptional leadership skills were noticed by Sheraton executives and, as a result, was recruited to serve as Manager of the Sheraton Key Largo Resort Hotel.
Years later, active in the trade and tourism business in the Upper Keys, Mary Ann formed a tourism consulting company which contracted with hotels and tourist destinations throughout the Florida Keys. In this capacity, Mary Ann formally represented these organizations and the Florida Keys as an international tourist destination at conventions and trade shows around the world.
With an opportunity to once again engage her extensive hospitality experience, Mary Ann was hired to lead the grand opening of two start-up restaurants in the Indianapolis market - the first restaurant offered classic Italian fare, the second - traditional German home cooking – both successful because of Mary Ann’s knowledge of the food industry, her influence and her restaurant expertise.
Mary Ann is survived by daughter Tiffany Nicole Palazzo, grandchildren Geno and Layla, all of Key Largo; siblings Betty Jo (Palazzo) Woodruff (Larry Woodruff, deceased), Celina, Oh.; Joe (Judy Wertenberger) Palazzo, Denver, N.C.; Donna Palazzo (Robert Weinhardt), Huron, Oh.; Charles ‘Chip’ Palazzo (Timothy Hogan), Lewisburg, Pa.; niece Heather (Woodruff) Fulton, Denver, Colo., nephew Troy Woodruff, Phoenix, Ariz.; niece Katharine (Graf) Holowitz, Columbus, Oh.; nephews Nicholas Palazzo, Sandusky, Oh.; Chase Palazzo and Maximilian Palazzo, Denver, Colo. In addition to her parents, Mary Ann was preceded in death by brother-in-law Larry Woodruff and niece Renee Woodruff.
Mary Ann’s health had declined over the past several years, but she remained in touch with friends and family. Her spirit, her laughter and her kind soul will be missed by all those who knew her.
Because of the current circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic, Mary Ann’s memorial service and internment of ashes will be planned for a later date. Friends and family are encouraged to make contributions to their favorite charities – and to do so in honor and recognition of Mary Ann.
The family is being assisted by the Allen-Beyer Funeral Home.